Why Does Social Media Marketing Take So Much Planning?
Best of Luck Casie!
Casie Gillette, a valuable member of the KoMarketing team for the past 2 1/2 years, recently left us to pursue an opportunity with a new technology company here in Massachusetts. Casie is that company’s new in-house SEO expert. We already miss Casie and wish her great success.
Our good friend Dave Crouch, President of ten24 (a web development company specializing in serving B2B companies), recently introduced us to Catalyst B2B, a B2B Brand Consultancy in Rhode Island. We are looking forward to working with Catalyst in creating comprehensive marketing strategies for B2B companies all over!
Yahoo! Web Analytics
Many months back Yahoo! made its move to compete with Google Analytics by purchasing a company called IndexTools. We had already been using IndexTools for some time, and were even paying for it instead of using Google Analytics for free. We were a bit worried that Yahoo! would “dumb down” the functionality of the reporting tool. It has been a pleasant surprise that Yahoo! Web Analytics has continued to support the robust functionality that IndexTools came with. And now Yahoo! offers it for free.
Why do we often prefer Yahoo! Web Analytics over Google Analytics?
- Drill down to individual visitor details
- Use filters to generate targeted reports
- Track multiple campaign types (and vendors) in one place
- Designate up to 10 Actions to track more easily than with the Funnel process that Google Analytics has
- Clear instructions on integrating e-commerce revenue values into campaign tracking
- Many more report types to choose from
We still happily use Google Analytics when a client prefers to use that. And in many cases we will simply add Yahoo! Web Analytics on top of Goole Analytics, gaining the advantage of cross-reference points.
If you would like to learn more, we are happy to talk to you and point out the functionality we like so much!
Social Media Planning – It Should Take Time
Why Does Social Media Marketing Take So Much Planning?
Social media marketing done wrong is worse than not doing it at all. Make the wrong move and you could create negative buzz out there.
Social Media Marketing done right is more powerful than any single direct mail campaign, trade show, or print advertising campaign you might do. More powerful than even a few mail drops, show booths, or print buys.
All of the above traditional marketing media typically require expenditures in the $$$-tens-of-thousands range – and there is no residual, synergistic, or accretive effect with these media.
Social Media Marketing does create a foundation for long-lasting benefits and activities that complement your other business initiatives.
So, spend your money on social media instead, right?
Not so fast.
Take the time to plan and develop a program that will work for your company first.
Here are the basic questions:
What do we want to accomplish?
Where do we participate?
Do we need a set of rules?
Who should be involved in this initiative?
What online assets do we need?
How will we keep score?
What Do We Want to Accomplish?
Just because it’s hot, it doesn’t mean you should engage in Social Media Marketing.
There are a number of objectives you may have, and you should clearly state these at the outset:
- Participate because our competitors are (this is real, there is a cost to having a competitor take over the conversation)
Be there because, if we are not, our brand image may suffer as people meet frustration that they can’t find us
Enhance brand presence online (and overall)
Generate traffic to our website
Create links to our website to improve SEO visibility
Generate sales & leads directly from participation
Provide customer service
Gather market feedback from customers & potential customers (and use it to improve our products, services, processes, etc.)
Analyze and understand competitors’ moves (not just social media activities – there has never been a richer time for Competitive Intelligence gathering than now!)
Where Do We Participate?
This may be one of the more difficult tasks. You will have limited resources and this will force you to choose between social communities/networks.
A first pass, using your instincts, may help you prioritize the discovery process. For example, you may know already that MySpace is not even a candidate for you because it just doesn’t fit.
But, after your first pass, you will still face some decisions that will impact your strategy.
Looking back at your Objectives, you can then think about whether or not you are looking for conversations, traffic, links, eyeballs, targeted demographics, etc.
Three basic questions to ask:
- Which of the “major players” do we focus on? – Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, Digg, Stumbleupon, etc?
Are industry/niche forums a better use of our time?
Shouldn’t reaching out to bloggers be a part of this effort?
Do We Need a Set of Rules?
If you are employed by a large company, you will almost certainly have some rules to abide by. Even if there are not rules that have been created specifically for social media, you would be doing yourself a service by thinking ahead and anticipating what your Legal & (traditional) PR teams might require. If you are a publicly-held company, this is even more critical!
You may have reached a decision that you will have multiple people in your organization work on the social media effort. Perhaps even multiple departments.
It would be a good idea to create a written list of “do’s” and “don’ts” for people in the company to reference (even if your company is a nimble, entrepreneurial company that does not typically ask for lots of documentation – you can keep it simple).
Who Should Be Involved In This Initiative?
Human resource allocation is one of the major stumbling blocks in launching and maintaining a social media program!
Here are some questions that may help decide what kind of skill sets you need (and then how many people you need) – will our implementers need?
- Deep industry & product knowledge
- Technical knowledge of products
- Customer service experience
- Understanding of the entire strategic picture for the company
- Access to company systems & databases (products, customer lists, technical info, etc.)
- Online marketing experience
Another key question that has to be answered – do we need a senior executive to participate?
You may want one of the faces (or The Face) of the company to participate in some way – contributing to a blog, building a network in Twitter, writing thought leadership pieces to point people to, etc.
What Online Assets Do We Need?
You will ultimately need Content to facilitate social media interactions. Whether the content is housed on your website or used on other sites, you will need information to help people understand more about your company and tell others in their networks about.
And it has to be interesting.
Spend some time looking at what is resonating in social bookmarking and news sharing sites like Digg, Reddit, Stumbleupon, Delicious, and YouTube.
Can you create content that will also appeal to people? Do you already have the content somewhere and just aren’t using it? If you need to create it, who will do it?
Remember, content can also take the form of promotions, contests, and other attention-grabbing events.
How Will We Keep Score?
As someone recently asked me – “how will we know when to either pop open the champagne and celebrate, or pull the plug?”
You should develop an internal Social Media Scorecard!
One of the “unfortunate” aspects of Social Media Marketing is that many of the benefits are hard to capture with hard metrics. However, you should do your best to create a series of measurable outcomes that can be tracked. I recommend updating your Scorecard at least monthly.
Some outcomes you may want to capture (an Excel spreadsheet should do the trick):
- Traffic (visits) sent to the site from specific social media websites
- Leads/sales that you can track back to referrals from the specific social media sites (using Web analytics and conversion tracking)
- Downloads of white papers by social community referral source (again, with conversion tracking in place)
- Number of followers & fans in each community
- Links generated during the time period (use Yahoo! Site Explorer, look at the “Inlinks” tab, select the option for “Except from this domain” and the option for links pointing to “Entire site”
- Use a search engine like Google and type in your brand name in quotes (e.g. “komarketing associates”), and write down the number of Results shown (e.g. 7,950 for us at this time). Updates to this number monthly will give you a general sense of how your brand has expanded online (obviously there are other PR and advertising activities that will contribute to this number, but you can at least take credit!)
- Reviews in YouTube
- Blog subscriptions (to your blog)
- Subscriptions to a newsletter you offer during the time period
In terms of tracking activities, you can keep track of number of:
- Contacts made to bloggers (you could separate these into comments left on blogs and personalized e-mails sent to the bloggers)
- Posts made in forums
- Updates on Twitter, Facebook, etc.
- Sites/reviews submitted in Stumbleupon, Reddit, Digg, etc. (not just your own site/content!)
- New content created for use in social media
Qualitatively, you can add a Notes field to your spreadsheet and make notations about outcomes that were especially significant (hit Digg homepage, great review by Blogger X, link was Retweeted X times, etc.)
I think you can see from everything described in this article that an effective Social Media Marketing program takes a lot of planning!
This amount of planning of course requires resources – and one place you can turn for help is KoMarketing Associates.